|Lynne Sladky / Associated Press|
|Clemson's exoplosive RB C.J. Spiller has caught the eyes of NFL scouts due to his big-play ability.|
Scouts have identified the top prospects to monitor for next year's draft. Using a combination of game tape evaluation and background research, draft boards are beginning to take shape in war rooms around the league.
Here's a look at the top 16 senior NFL prospects for the 2010 draft class, in order of when they might get drafted:
1. Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State (6-5, 300)
The Cowboys' star is a dominating tackle prospect with exceptional size and nimble feet. Okung continues to impress scouts with his superior skills as a run or pass blocker, and is undoubtedly a franchise-caliber left tackle prospect.
2. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska (6-4, 305)
Scouts continue to marvel at Suh's exceptional strength, power and athleticism. The Husker standout is a dominant interior player with the skills to terrorize opponents as a run stuffer or pass rusher, and his unique skill set makes him the top defensive prospect in the draft.
3. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson (5-11, 193)
The explosive speedster has lived up to his reputation by delivering a host of big plays this season. Spiller has emerged as one of the top multi-purpose threats in college football, and has scouts clamoring over his budding skills as a dynamic, change-of-pace running back.
4. Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma (6-5, 309)
Williams made the move to left tackle this year and has shown some promise while manning the position. He excels as a run blocker and shows solid skills in pass protection. While his struggles with speed and quickness off the edge lead some to question his ability to play left tackle in the NFL, Williams remains one of the top tackle prospects in the draft.
5. Taylor Mays, FS, USC (6-3, 230)
Some scouts have rated the hard-hitting Trojan as the top defensive player in the 2010 draft class. An exceptional athlete with outstanding instincts and awareness, Mays is the prototypical enforcer defensive coordinators covet in the middle of the field.
6. Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas (6-4, 254)
The ultra-athletic pass rusher has one of the quickest first steps in the game, and is an explosive player with immense potential. His stock has taken a bit of a tumble in the eyes of some scouts, however, due to his inconsistent motor and effort. Regardless, his penchant for delivering splash plays makes him an intriguing prospect and worthy of inclusion on this list.
7. Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama (6-5, 365)
The mammoth run stuffer is immovable at the point and gobbles up double teams with ease. Cody's ability to clog the middle is invaluable in the pro game, but concerns about his weight may cause his stock to drop prior to the draft. Nevertheless, few defensive tackles have the potential to impact a defense like the Alabama defensive tackle, which makes him a highly coveted prospect for many NFL teams.
8. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas (6-3, 210)
McCoy has not put up impressive numbers this season but remains a highly regarded quarterback prospect due to his superior intangibles. McCoy shows good accuracy, awareness and anticipation as a pocket passer, and continues to surprise scouts with his athleticism on the perimeter. While others may have better physical tools, McCoy's overall package makes him the top choice among senior quarterbacks.
|Ed Reinke / Associated Press|
|Florida LB Brandon Spikes' game-changing abilities are earning him rave reviews from NFL scouts.|
9. Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida (6-3, 256)
The hard-hitting linebacker has exceptional instincts and awareness. Spikes routinely delivers bone-jarring hits and game-changing plays while patrolling the middle of the defense. With scouts also citing his superior leadership skills as a strength, Spikes is earning rave reviews as the 2010 draft's top inside linebacker prospect.
10. Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State (5-11, 192)
The do-it-all cover man has an all-around game that has scouts projecting him as an immediate starter on the next level. With the instincts and ball skills of a cover corner and the teeth-rattling hitting prowess of a safety, Robinson has emerged as the top prospect at the position.
11. Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri (6-2, 245)
Weatherspoon is a versatile linebacker with explosive athleticism and movement skills. Although he doesn't show up on the highlight reel very often, his consistent play garners rave reviews from scouts who have catapulted him into consideration as a top prospect.
12. Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan (6-1, 274)
Graham is a stout edge player with exceptional strength and power. He is a productive sack artist with an unbelievable motor. Though he lacks prototypical height for the position, his relentless energy and pursuit puts him among the top defensive end prospects.
13. Ricky Sapp, OLB, Clemson (6-4, 248)
Sapp has all of the physical tools to be an elite edge player as a pro. He is a phenomenal athlete with explosive first-step quickness and rush skills. Though his game is built more on finesse, scouts believe his overall ability translates well to the pros and makes him worthy of inclusion on a list of top prospects.
14. Charles Brown, OT, USC (6-6, 296)
The athletic tackle with nimble feet has emerged as one of the top players at his position after routinely dominating foes on the edge during his senior season. Although some scouts would like to see more aggressiveness in Browns' play, the Trojan stalwart has all of the requisite tools to be a franchise-caliber left tackle as a pro. That is why he has suddenly shot up draft boards across the league.
15. Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU (6-3, 209)
LaFell is a big, physical pass catcher with all of the requisite skills to be a classic No. 1 receiver on the next level. He possesses excellent hands and is a polished route runner with the skills to do the dirty work over the middle. With few flaws in his overall game, it is not surprising scouts are pegging him as the top senior prospect at his position.
16. Greg Hardy, DE, Mississippi, (6-4, 265)
Hardy is a rangy, edge player with good instincts and overall skills. He has been hampered by a nagging ankle injury suffered in Ole Miss' season opener, but remains highly regarded in scouting circles due to his uncanny ability to get to the quarterback.